Overpronation and underpronation describe general foot movements. These terms do not necessarily describe a medical problem with a foot. For example, you can overpronate and not have any problems or symptoms at all. It is important to have your foot structure and symptoms adequately assessed by your prescribing physician and a qualified practitioner. Once the underlying conditions and mechanical faults are assessed, an appropriate treatment plan including possible orthotic and footwear recommendations can be made.
Unless there is a severe, acute injury, overpronation develops as a gradual biomechanical distortion. Several factors contribute to developing overpronation, including tibialis posterior weakness, ligament weakness, excess weight, pes planus (flat foot), genu valgum (knock knees), subtalar eversion, or other biomechanical distortions in the foot or ankle. Tibialis posterior weakness is one of the primary factors leading to overpronation. Pronation primarily is controlled by the architecture of the foot and eccentric activation of the tibialis posterior. If the tibialis posterior is weak, the muscle cannot adequately slow the natural pronation cycle.
Overpronation can lead to injuries and pain in the foot, ankle, knee, or hip. Overpronation puts extra stress on all the bones in the feet. The repeated stress on the knees, shins, thighs, and pelvis puts additional stress on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the lower leg. This can put the knee, hip, and back out of alignment, and it can become very painful.
Look at your soles of your footwear: Your sneaker/shoes will display heavy wear marks on the outside portion of the heel and the inside portion above the arch up to the top of the big toe on the sole. The “wet-foot” test is another assessment. Dip the bottom of your foot in water and step on to a piece of paper (brown paper bag works well). Look at the shape of your foot. If you have a lot of trouble creating an arch, you likely overpronate. An evaluation from a professional could verify your foot type.
Non Surgical Treatment
The way a foot orthotic works is by altering the weight-bearing surface of the foot. The simulated foot improvement is only possible when standing still with full weight applied. Orthotics are of little help through most of the actual walking cycle. observationPatients may experience some symptom relief, but the orthotic cannot correct the internal osseous misalignment. Over-the-counter foot orthotics are usually of little help and wear out quickly. Custom-made foot orthotics, obtained through your doctor’s office, are generally expensive. Though they last longer and have less chance of ill-effects than OTC brands, they still need to be replaced often. Over a lifetime, an individual can spend several thousands of dollars in total costs associated with orthotics and see little or no results. This is because orthotics only work when you are wearing them and do not treat the cause of the problem. In many cases, the external pressure points created by orthotics can cause more problems than solutions. Blisters, sore feet, sore joints and many other long-term complications can arise as a consequence of wearing orthotics.
Depending on the severity of your condition, your surgeon may recommend one or more treatment options. Ultimately, however, it’s YOUR decision as to which makes the most sense to you. There are many resources available online and elsewhere for you to research the various options and make an informed decision.